More than 200 university students, graduates, and career-changers registered for Striver’s inaugural Brimstone event in Sydney this week to learn about career opportunities in the financial advice industry.
The speakers – including Insignia Financial chief advice officer Darren Whereat and BT Financial Group CEO Matt Rady – emphasised the need to combat the current shortage of advisers.
Whereat addressed the audience at the beginning of the event, speaking passionately about the exciting prospects and societal impact of a career in financial advising.
“For me, making sure people have their affairs in order, making sure they’re happy, making sure they achieve their goals, is a rewarding thing.”
Whereat shared a personal experience that profoundly impacted him and forever shaped his perspective on the importance of financial planning and preparedness.
“About 10 years ago, despite all my energies and efforts, my best mate did not get his affairs in order,” he said.
“This is where I failed him.”
His friend, a fellow sports enthusiast with whom he had grown up, tragically suffered a heart attack and passed away, leaving behind a tangled web of financial complications for his family.
“[Financial advice is about] helping people understand that having their affairs in order is something that should be paramount.”
He also stressed the demand for financial advisers in today’s complex financial landscape and the transformative role they play in people’s lives.
“Currently, there are 11 million individual Australians that have unadvised needs,” Whereat said.
“There are 2 million people in the system at the moment, getting financial advice.”
He added that there are 100,000 qualified doctors in Australia and only 15,000 advisers.
“This stark contrast underscores the enormous demand for financial guidance and the potential for young professionals to make a real impact.”
Whereat said there has never been a better time to be part of this “absolutely wonderful” profession.
“You will join the profession where [you will be able to] help people with their finances, mental health, and well-being over the coming generations,” he said.
In a separate address, BT’s Rady stressed the need for more women to become advisers.
“At the moment, women make up 23 per cent of financial advisers [in Australia],” he said.
“If you were to go and see a financial adviser today, there’s an almost one in five chance that person is a man. But interestingly, when you talk to advisers, they will tell you that the decision to use their advice often sits with the female partner, who looks for a female adviser because they want to find a connection. They want to find the opportunity to bond when it comes to financial affairs and family.”
Two recent roundtables hosted by Professional Planner and the Stella Network, and sponsored by BT Financial Group, discussed why the lack of diversity still exists, how it can be changed, and how more women can be encouraged to enter the financial advice ecosystem.
Tech supports entrepreneurial people
The technological advancements that are reshaping the financial advisory landscape were discussed at Brimstone.
While the industry attempts to re-build human talent, Clime Investment Management chief operating office Kara Boden noted the opportunities for entrepreneurial tech-focused talents.
“The technology to support entrepreneurial people is only going to [improve],” Boden said.
“It’s a really exciting time to take part in a lot of the new technological innovations that are coming out.”
She added that there is “a lot of conversation at the moment around AI and ChatGPT”.
“The world is going to move forward quite quickly in terms of automation, which is fantastic [because it allows you to] create efficiencies and change the way that you engage with different clients,” Boden said.
“But at the same time, people are still going to want to deal with people. That’s not going to change, especially when it’s something as personal as your financial future.”
AMP managing director of advice Matt Lawler said digital advice tools will co-exist with human advisers in a hybrid model.
“[AMP’s] view is probably [digital advice is] more a facilitator of advice and a nurturer of people who will ultimately give advice,” Lawler said.
“There are great digital tools and technology available that allow you to perform calculations and gain an overview, but you will get to a point where the complexity means that you need to get a human involved.”
Over half of all Australians (53 per cent) are open to digital advice, according to recent research commissioned by Colonial First State.
Only 20 per cent are not open to it, and 28 per cent do not know enough about it to say if they are open to it or not.
Research from AMP and KMPG released earlier this year found interest in digital advice is at its peak but consumer take-up has still been underwhelming.
Lawler said a hybrid model will “probably” become the norm over time, because consumers will prefer tech for some aspects and human interaction for other parts.
“Some people will go through their whole life just using a technology tool, but we see that as the minority,” Lawler said.
“Most people will want that support at some point of time in their life.”